Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904)

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John Steckley. Courtesy of Missionary Church Historical Trust, Kitchener, Ontario.

John Hoover Steckley: farmer, preacher and founder with Abraham Raymer and Christian Troyer Jr. of the New Mennonite Churches in York and Ontario Counties, Ontario, Canada that became the basis of Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada congregations in Gormley, Stouffville, Markham and Mt. Albert (Scott Township).

John Steckley was born 12 February 1826 on the family farm at Bethesda, Whitchurch Township, York County to Christian Steckley (1796-1831) and Veronica “Fanny” Hoover (1795-1859). John’s father was from Pennsylvania, his mother from Washington County, Maryland, USA. He was the fourth son of six children, all sons. John attended the public school available in the community and became an able writer. He married Sara Burkholder (17 July 1830-1926) in Toronto on 12 November 1850. She was the daughter of Henry Burkholder (1790-1860) and Catherine Troyer (1794-1886). Catherine Troyer was a sister of Christian Troyer Junior. Sara and John had eight children, six daughters and two sons. John Steckley died on 17 May 1904; both John and Sara in 1926 are buried at Dickson’s Hill Cemetery in Markham Township, Ontario.

John grew up in a Mennonite family. The family farm, located at a crossroad, was listed as a preaching location (“Stecklin”) by the Mennonite Church of Canada once, in 1859. In his thirtieth year, however, John was converted under the revival preaching of Abraham Raymer. By then Raymer was associating with Daniel Hoch’s New Mennonite Church of Canada West. After his conversion, the Markham Tunkers (Brethren in Christ) invited him to join them. Instead, wanting a church with open communion, John and Sara became members of the New Mennonite Church.

John Steckley entered the New Mennonite ministry in 1860 and was ordained in 1863. The Markham Society listed Sara and John second after Abraham and Elizabeth Raymer in the minute book started in November 1864. In 1869 the Markham Society asked John Steckley to obtain their first marriage register. The Markham New Mennonites met in a cluster of appointments centered on Dickson’s Hill, where their one meeting house had been constructed in 1863; Stouffville and Bethesda in Whitchurch; Edgeley in Vaughan Township; Altona in Pickering Township, Ontario County; plus other locations in York and Ontario Counties that arose from evangelistic activity of the preachers from time to time. These included Ringwood, Uxbridge and Mt Carmel. Steckley, who was on the committee producing the New Mennonite preaching plan some years, spoke in them all.

John Steckley was chair of the Markham New Mennonite semi-annual conference when they considered merging with Solomon Eby’s Reforming Mennonites in late 1874 and was a delegate to the merging conference in Bloomingdale, Waterloo County in March 1875. Under the United Mennonites (1875-1879) and then the Evangelical United Mennonite Discipline (1880), which Steckley helped to write with Solomon Eby and Benjamin Bowman, an itinerant stationing system was introduced that was hard for the older farmer-preachers of the New Mennonites with big families to accept, and Steckley stayed in Markham until 1882. With all but their youngest two children in adulthood, John and Sara entered the new system, serving The Twenty in Lincoln County with South Cayuga and Sherkston in Haldimand County (1882-1883); a circuit with John McNally in Nottawasaga Township in Simcoe County (1883-1884); as a conference-approved evangelist in 1884-1885; preacher for Berlin (Kitchener) (1885-1887); Berlin and Blair (1887-1888), again with McNally. From then on, John and Sara returned to Markham, and he was listed as a “helper” on the circuit, with others, until 1903.

John Steckley’s New Mennonites supported evangelical revivals. They preached for crisis conversions and demonstrative testifying. After they joined with the Reforming Mennonite Society to form the United Mennonites, they were introduced to Wesleyan holiness teaching through camp meetings from 1880 onward. Steckley attended some of the early camp meetings in Indiana and Breslau, Ontario, and after some reluctance on his part, accepted the Wesleyan theology.

In semi-retirement, John Steckley still attended protracted meetings as reported by the young minister in charge at Sunnidale Township, Simcoe Co, in 1891: “The third week...Eld. J. H. Steckley (one of our fathers in Israel) came along and preached for us two nights. He got blessed in holding up a full salvation. His presence...was much appreciated and had a good effect...” A month before, Steckley had preached three times for Noah Detweiler at Shrigley.

When the denomination started the Gospel Banner periodical in 1878, John Steckley immediately supported it with letters, reports and articles. With John McNally from Blair, he provided a bridge between the New Mennonites and the Mennonite Brethren in Christ era that followed.


Anthony, Ebenezer. “From Sunnidale Mission, Ontario.” Gospel Banner (15 February 1891): 11.

Huffman, Jasper A., ed. History of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. New Carlisle, Ohio: The Bethel Pub. Co, 1920: 39-40, 269 Available in full electronic text at

“New Mennonite Society of York County and Ontario” Minutes. 1864-1881. Dickson’s Hill Box 1010. Missionary Church Historical Trust, Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener, Ontario.

Storms, Everek R. History of the United Missionary Church. Elkhart, Indiana: Bethel Publ. Co., 1958: 215.

Author(s) Clare Fuller
Date Published October 2014

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MLA style

Fuller, Clare. "Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2014. Web. 23 Jun 2021.,_John_Hoover_(1826-1904)&oldid=126829.

APA style

Fuller, Clare. (October 2014). Steckley, John Hoover (1826-1904). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2021, from,_John_Hoover_(1826-1904)&oldid=126829.

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